Kaia Niambi Shivers
Kaia Niambi Shivers currently teaches writing in Liberal Studies at New York University. At this time, she is lead faculty for Liberal Studies at the NYU Florence campus in Florence, Italy. She describes her work in three words—academia, artistry and activism—because these aspects of her life often intertwine.
As a response to seeing food insecurity while reporting on the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, she launched an online database to connect consumers to Black farmers in the US in 2020. The listing, known as the Black Farmers Index, is the largest free, public and most comprehensive digital database with over 800 traditional and non-traditional growers.
In 2017, Shivers launched Ark Republic, a member-fueled news media site that uses newsmakers, narrators and local event curators to cultivate rich and robust stories that explore issues and topics of the world. There, she serves as editor-in-chief and works with over 50 contributors around the world.
In 2016, she began a 15-part docuseries called, Pulling Heaven from the Sky: An Òrìṣà in the Ghetto experience, a filmic exploration of the Black experience in the United States, using the West African pantheon of deities called orisa (pronounced, Orisha).
She received her Ph.D. from the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University, and her M.A. from Clark Atlanta University (Africana Women’s Studies). The core of her research explores how members of the African diaspora imagine and re-present blackness through their use of media. Currently, she focuses on how diasporans construct and perform identity by way of Nollywood, a West African film industry.
Shivers is a voracious writer who writes everything from critical essays to short stories. Between teaching writing courses at NYU and contributing articles, short docs and podcasts to Ark Republic, she writes a number of political, cultural, tech and media critiques.
In 2015, Linkedin named Dr. Shivers one of their Top Voice’s for her pieces on education. In addition, Dr. Shivers regularly submits essays to local blogs and small black papers.
Embedded in community work, she started in grassroots activism in Los Angeles as a fifteen-year-old, working with local religious groups to create amicable relationships between African-Americans and Korean merchants before-and-after the 1992 LA Civil Unrest.
After the historical 1992 civil uprising, Shivers embarked on a cultural trip to Korea that changed her life. Chronicling her journey as a volunteer youth writer for the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African-American newspaper, she began to pen essays on culture, inter-and-intra-cultural relationships, and black people around the world. She continues that commitment, along with teaching, lecturing and facilitating workshops.
Today, Shivers works with several initiatives to empower youth in urban areas and advocates for local artists.
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